Heartburn relief with acupuncture

In my last article I discussed what heartburn/acid reflux is from an eastern and western medical perspective and as well as contributing lifestyle habits (poor stress management and improper eating and diet) that are often aggravating factors.  In today’s article I will discuss some Traditional Chinese medical treatments that address the cause of heartburn and explain how they work.   

As discussed in part one of this article heartburn is experienced after the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes or fails to constrict allowing stomach acid to ascend the esophagus causing a burning sensation behind the sternum (breastbone).  In Chinese medical theory this is viewed as the Liver attacking the Stomach or a stressor affecting the digestive function of the Stomach.  This can lead to many different digestive issues including gastric (Stomach) distention and relaxation of the LES, which allows stomach acid to ascend the esophagus causing heartburn.


When treating this type (Liver attacking the Stomach) of heartburn with Acupuncture there are a few key Acupuncture points that I have had great success with.  However the primary Acupuncture point for treating heartburn, which many patients find interesting, is found on the forearm, two inches above the centre of the wrist between the two large tendons (Palmaris Longus & Flexor Carpi Radialis) that bulge out when making a fist. 

The name of this Acupuncture point is Nei Guan (PC 6) and it is one of the primary points used in Acupuncture to treat digestive disorders such as: gastric distention or bloating, nausea, vomiting, belching, and heartburn/acid reflux when they are brought on by an imbalance between the Liver and the Stomach.  In 2005 researchers in Taiwan conducted a study on the effectiveness of Acupuncture in treating heartburn and discovered that a gentle stimulation of the Acupuncture point Nei Guan (PC 6) reduced what is known as transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxation (TLERs) by 40%.   TLERs is the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) in response to gastric distention, it is also the main mechanism that causes heartburn.

In combination with Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicines are essential to the effective treatment of heartburn.  An effective Chinese medical herbal formula for this form of heartburn is the formula Zuo Jin Wan - The Left Metal Pill.  This formula is comprised of just two ingredients Huang Lian (Copitidis Rhizome) and Wu Zhu Yu (Evodiae Fructus), and it works to harmonize the Liver and Stomach while quelling the fire of both organs.  It functions by addressing the cause of heartburn by reducing the stress response of the body, regulating the digestive function, and stopping the reflux of stomach acid that causes heartburn.

Today I have discussed one of the most common causes of heartburn that I see in my practice, however there are other cause of heartburn that I have not touched on. For this reason I strongly urge anyone thinking of using Chinese herbal medicines for heartburn treatment to seek out a Chinese medical Practitioner (R.TCM.P) or Doctor of Chinese medicine (Dr.TCM) for an accurate diagnosis and herbal prescription.  


If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment please contact Ryan Samuels (R.TCM.P) at (250) 860 2212 or through his website www.kelownaacupunctureclinic.com

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Ryan Samuels is a Registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medical Herbalist (R.Ac, R.TCMP) at KLO Chiropractic Centre in Kelowna. He holds a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine diploma, and has a special interest in the treatment of digestive issues, neuropathy, acute & chronic pain, sports injuries, and migraines.  All treatments with Ryan are individualized and designed around your current physical and mental well being. 

Website link:  http://www.kelownaacupunctureclinic.com/

Contact Email:  [email protected] 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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